NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Suns vs. Hornets, Trail Blazers vs. Raptors (Sunday, March 28)

Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured (L-R): Deandre Ayton #22, Mikal Bridges #25, Chris Paul #3 and Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns.

With just four games on Sunday’s NBA schedule, our analysts are zeroing in on two games, including one with an early start in Charlotte.

Check out where they are finding some betting value on Sunday’s short slate.

NBA Odds & Picks

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Suns vs. Hornets 1 p.m. ET
Suns vs. Hornets 1 p.m. ET
Trail Blazers vs. Raptors 7 p.m. ET

Phoenix Suns vs. Charlotte Hornets

Pick Under 221 (DraftKings)
Tipoff 1 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Austin Wang: It is unfortunate that LaMelo Ball has suffered a fractured wrist in his spectacular rookie season. However, the market has yet to appropriately adjust for his impact on the Hornets’ Pace factor, which presents a great opportunity for the total today.

Per Basketball Reference, the On/Off numbers show that the Charlotte Hornets’ pace decreases by 5.5 possessions when he is off the court. In the three games he has been out, the Hornets are dead last in Pace (93.83) in the league.

The Hornets continue to shoot a high volume of 3-pointers as Terry Rozier, the main beneficiary of Ball’s absence, is not afraid to pull the trigger. The Suns are league-best in lowest 3-point percentage allowed (34.01%), which will help stifle the Hornets’ volume shooters of Rozier, Devonte Graham and Malik Monk.

Bismack Biyombo has been starting the last four games and logging in 20+ minutes per game. If this trend continues, the On/Off numbers show that the Hornets’ Pace decrease by 3.6 possessions and their Offensive Rating decreases by an astonishing 9.2 points when he is On the court, per Basketball Reference.

The Phoenix Suns defense continues to be their bread and butter, ranking 4th in Defensive Rating (108.2) and are 24th in Pace (98.22) for the season, per NBA Advanced Stats. With Chris Paul running the show, he keeps it slow and steady when running their half-court offense.

Since the 2018-2019 season, teams on their fourth consecutive road game and is on their fourth game in six days have gone 97-62-5 (39%) to the under, per the Sports Data Query Language database. This is active on the Suns as they are on the tail end of a long road trip and playing their fourth game in six days. With all the travel and fatigue factored in, I don’t see them pushing the ball as much.

Finally, since the 2014-2015 season, early Sunday games that begin 2 p.m. ET or earlier have gone under 52-35-2 (59.8%), per our Bet Labs tool. I anticipate a slow-paced game and make the fair total on this game 217, so I love the value I am getting on the total here. I project a 112-104 win for the Suns.

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Phoenix Suns vs. Charlotte Hornets

Pick Suns -6.5 (BetMGM)
Tipoff 1 p.m. ET

Raheem Palmer: This is a matchup between two teams in completely different weight classes. The Phoenix Suns hold the second best record in the Western Conference at 30-14 and have been equally dominant against teams above and below .500. The Charlotte Hornets are 24-22 and are just 7-12 against teams .500 and above.

Although they played the Suns tough in their February 24th loss, they’ve gone just 1-5 straight up against teams .500 or above sine that game. While this team has shown they can win without LaMelo Ball, going 3-0 against the Rockets, Spurs and Heat, this isa major step up in class against a Suns team which is eighth in Offensive Rating (116.2) and fifth in Defensive Rating (109.0).

Similar to Friday’s matchup against the Toronto Raptors, the Charlotte Hornets primarily rely on scoring from behind the arc, taking 38.8 of their field goal attempts from 3-point range which ranks eighth among NBA teams.

While the Hornets are fourth among NBA teams, making 39.5% of them they’re facing a Suns team which is holding opponents to 34.6% shooting from behind the arc, second-lowest among NBA teams. The Suns are simply a different caliber of defense and with that being he only area of the floor in which the Hornets can score efficiently, they’re fighting an uphill battle in this matchup.

The Suns have many advantages in this matchup. Even with the offensively challenged rim protector Bismack Biyombo playing minutes at center, they’re still allowing opposing teams to shoot 66.1% at the rim which is 25th among NBA teams.

As a whole, the Hornets aren’t a great defense and they’re 20th in Defensive Rating, giving up 113.4 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes this season.

I’ll lay the -6 .5 with the Suns as they should close out their four game road trip with a win to keep pace for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference Playoff race.

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Toronto Raptors

Pick Blazers -1 (FanDuel)
Tipoff 7 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Kenny Ducey: Sometimes, the Gambling Gods shine down on you. On Sunday night, we’ve got the change to take the Blazers as a road dog, and I’m absolutely going to take advantage. Portland has gone 8-4 against the spread when getting points on the road, and is 13-9 ATS as the away team overall.

Those two profitable trends come on top of what I see as a great matchup for the Trail Blazers. They’ve won five of seven, and the Raptors have lost 10 of the past 11. What’s more, they just traded away Norman Powell to … the Trail Blazers in exchange for Gary Trent, Jr. in what I see as a downgrade.

Though Trent was valuable in Portland, Powell should provide a bit more of a scoring punch on the wing which the Blazers have been in desperate need of.

On the whole, though, neither of these teams have played any defense this year, particularly of late in the last 10 games, ranking in the bottom three of the NBA. The Trail Blazers’ offense, meanwhile, has remained a juggernaut, scoring a league-bet 118.6 points per 100 possessions over that span.

Powell was one of the Raptors’ best 3-point options, and should greatly detract from their ability to keep up with one of the league’s most efficient offenses. On the other side of the coin, he fits perfectly with the Blazers, who are basically the new Rockets, just going for a high volume of 3s.

He should start off his time in his new home with a win. I grabbed this at +1.5 but would take this to a -2.

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